Microbes in breast-feeding moms differ from those who don’t; insect microbes as sources of antibiotics; and a microbial start-up

Breastmilk from Mothers Who Pump Has a Different Microbial Makeup

(The Scientist, Carolyn Wilke, 2/13/19)

Researchers in Manitoba analyzed the breast milk from about 400 women to identify the milk’s composition. They discovered very different microbes in the breast milk of mothers who pump versus mothers who feed directly. Not surprisingly, one factor that changed between the samples was the presence or absence of oral microbes from the infant. The study did not offer a conclusion over which method is “better,” since research into the microbiota of breast milk is still in its early stages.

Bugs vs. Superbugs: Insects Offer Promise In Fight Against Antibiotic Resistance

(NPR, Paul Chisholm, 2/13/19)

Many of our current antibiotic drugs have been developed from microbes in soil, but recent research has discovered that the microbes living in some insects might be a new source for antibiotics. This research may prove promising in fighting antibiotic-resistant superbugs. The researchers tested insect-derived antibiotics on E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus, and found that the insect versions were better at inhibiting pathogens.

A New Lab is Brewing Microbes to Create Makeup and Medicines

(Wired, Megan Molteni, 2/12/19)

Start-up company Culture Biosciences is offering yeast and bacteria-rearing facilities to companies engaged in synthetic biology. These facilities will help companies who are using microbes for manufacturing, as the demand for microbial testing has outpaced the available lab space for growing microbial colonies. Products manufactured by microbes range from vegan meat substitutes to biofuels.

—Stories compiled by Senior Scientific Writer Mary Parker